Microtecnica, on the stop at Safran Paris disputes the golden power

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Paris raises its voice after the Italian government’s opposition to the Safran-Microtecnica operation. Sources from the French Ministry of Economy, interviewed by Il Sole-24 Ore, complain that Italy has not consulted the transalpine government, a lack of preventive exchange which is defined in no uncertain terms as deplorable between European partners «especially for activities held by American entities ». The Prime Ministerial Decree with which the government applied the veto is dated 16 November 2023. The investigation, conducted by Guido Crosetto’s Ministry of Defence, after an initial hypothesis relating to authorization with prescriptions, veered towards outright opposition, a choice so far done very few times by Italian governments in the era of golden power. It fell to the French to Safraninterested in taking over the activities of Collins Aerospace – part of the American RTX Corporation, a multinational in the aerospace sector -, to cash in on the No of Giorgia Meloni’s Government which intervened in relation to the activities of the Piedmontese Microtecnica, a Collins branch.

The reasons for the Italian Prime Ministerial Decree

The decree would refer to the need to guarantee priority to industrial production lines of direct interest for Italian defence, reflecting fears regarding employment levels. But the game seems even bigger. Microtecnica is also a supplier of spare parts and services to the Eurofighter fourth generation fighter program (the result of collaboration between Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain) and one of the concerns, which would have been raised by the German government in dialogues with the Italian ones prior to the adoption of the decree, is that the supply chain could in some way be slowed down or have repercussions once the Safran operation was completed. Prime Minister Meloni, on Wednesday in Berlin, on the sidelines of the signing of the Action plan with Germany, had stated that «the potential slowdowns in supplies of the logistics chain that came from the acquisition of Microtecnica by Safran did not appear compatible with the operational needs of the Armed Forces to have these programs and systems without there being a solution of continuity» . On the lack of communication with France, then, a laconic comment: «There will be no shortage of opportunities for the Italian Government to illustrate to the allies the reasons for this measure, relating above all to the issue of our efficiency and security».

Microtecnica numbers

The company has over 600 employees in three factories in Italy, the main one in the city of Turin. Microtecnica is one of the big players in the Piedmontese aerospace supply chain, alongside Leonardo, Thales Alenia Space, Avio Aero and Altec. The company designs and produces general on-board systems – actuation systems – hydraulic and pneumatic intended to equip civil and military vehicles. It supplies large companies such as Airbus, Leonardo, Avio Aero. What also makes the dossier delicate is the fact that Microtecnica produces actuators and spare parts for the Tornadoes and for the C-27J – the aircraft produced by Leonardo in Caselle – as well as production intended for the helicopter sector.

In 2019 the company celebrated its 90th anniversary since its birth (1929). Important investments are being made precisely in the historic Turin factory, part of which is intended to increase the production capacity of the factory where 370 people work, using a completely redeveloped space previously used as warehouses. With transfer and replacement of machinery and an underground part used for unloading goods and materials to be disposed of. The news relating to the interest of the French towards the reality rooted in Piedmont had already been circulating for months. From the point of view of industrial prospects, «Safran is not an unknown group and offers no less guarantees than the current ones» says Marco Barbieri of Fim-Cisl of Turin. The union delegates add that the share of orders destined for the American market is low, therefore if the transfer of ownership to the French created problems on the US market, the repercussions would be limited. The idea of ​​part of the union is that in any case, in the event of a sale to Safran, it would be a development project, as among other things officially declared by Safran last July. Expectation, therefore, and caution, also expressed by the secretary of the Fiom of Turin Edi Lazzi.

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